George Williams out of England Test against New Zealand with knee injury

Wigan stand-off George Williams has become the second player to be withdrawn from England’s squad for the mid-season Test match against New Zealand.

Williams still travelled to the United States in the hope of being fit, having sustained a knee injury in his club’s 14-10 Super League win over Hull at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday, but was ruled out by England’s medical staff on arrival in Denver.

England say the player will remain in camp in Colorado to receive treatment and they will not bring in a replacement so coach Wayne Bennett will pick his team from an 18-man squad.

The loss of Williams leaves England without three of their half-back options used in the 2017 World Cup.

Warrington’s Kevin Brown has retired and his partner for December’s World Cup final against Australia, Castleford’s reigning Man of Steel Luke Gale, is sidelined with a broken kneecap.

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It means Bennett is almost certain to select Gareth Widdop (St George Illawarra) and Jonny Lomax (St Helens) as his half-backs and Stefan Ratchford (Warrington) at full-back against the Kiwis at Mile High Stadium on Saturday.

But it leaves the coach without any obvious cover for James Roby after he opted to take only one specialist hooker with him to the States.

The injury to Williams is the second blow for England since Bennett unveiled his 19-man squad a week ago.

South Sydney prop George Burgess, recalled after an impressive first half to the season in the NRL and reunited with brothers Sam and Tom in the England squad, pulled out at the weekend after picking up a quadriceps injury in the Rabbitohs’ win over Parramatta.

Hull front-rower Scott Taylor was called up as a replacement and flew out to Denver on Sunday, along with club-mate Jake Connor and the contingent from St Helens and Wigan.

Ratchford and his Warrington skipper Chris Hill caught a flight on Monday, along with Ryan Hall (Leeds) and Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield).